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Martin wants Moriarty reopened, Taoiseach says Tribunal's work is finished

The Fianna Fáil leader wants a specific module of the tribunal reopened in light of new allegations concerning a previously undisclosed payment made by independent TD Michael Lowry to the land agent Kevin Phelan.

Michael Lowry
Michael Lowry
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin plans to call on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to reopen a module of Moriarty Tribunal for a three month period to allow it to examine new allegations concerning the Tipperary TD Michael Lowry.

Martin has said that information contained in a recording of a conversation between the former Fine Gael minister and property agent Kevin Phelan over details of a €250,000 payment “raises some very serious questions”.

“Primary among them is whether a central module of the Moriarty Tribunal was compromised by an effort to co-ordinate the evidence of key witnesses,” Martin said in a statement first printed in the Sunday Independent and provided to TheJournal.ie today.

The Taoiseach has already ruled out reopening the Tribunal and speaking in New York today he said that Justice Moriarty had reported “fully and finally” according to Newstalk.

The conversation between Lowry and Phelan is said to have taken place on 20 September 2004 and concerns a €250,000 payment to Phelan which Lowry pleaded with Phelan not to reveal as the independent TD had “never declared it”.

In a statement released following first publication of a transcript of the conversation in the Sunday Independent three weeks ago, Lowry insisted that the payment was “properly recorded and accounted for” through one of his companies.

He has since refused to confirm the authenticity of the tape recording and claimed he has been unable to obtain a copy of the tape from the Sunday Independent, which broke the story.

This contradicts claims from the paper which details attempts to get a copy of the conversation to Lowry in today’s edition.

‘Proximity’

Martin said that TV3 had been “inexplicably alone among Irish broadcasters” in broadcasting the audio recording of the conversation last Thursday night and said that the case for re-examining evidence presented to the Moriarty Tribunal had been emboldened.

In 2011, the Tribunal found that Lowry exerted an “insidious and pervasive influence” on the process of awarding a mobile telephone license to the Denis O’Brien’s company Esat Digifone.

However it made limited findings on matters concerning the sale of Doncaster Rovers Football Club, which involved Phelan, due to “suppression” of evidence. Both Lowry and O’Brien have rejected the findings of the Tribunal.

Martin said of the recording played on TV3: “The nuances which emerge, absent from the written transcript, add to the fear that the Tribunal’s work may have been compromised.”

The Fianna Fáil leader said that the reluctance of the Taoiseach to investigate the new allegations surrounding Lowry was “understandable” given “the proximity” he and other ministers have to the events which led to the Tribunal.

But he said that Labour’s silence is a “a stark reminder of that party’s weakness”.

He continued: “No political party in this country can point to an unblemished past, but those of us who want to build a better quality of politics for the future have a duty to speak out on this issue.

“Fine Gael and the Labour Party were elected with a record majority on a long list of promises. At the top of that list was a promise to change the way we practice politics.

“In that spirit, I will next week call on the Taoiseach to agree to have the specific module of the Moriarty Tribunal reopened for a period of three months to allow Judge Moriarty examine the new material that has emerged since he reported two years ago.

“If Fine Gael meant a word of what it said about the need for change, and if the Labour Party has a shred of integrity left, I expect unanimous support for this call.”

Read: Gardaí examining Lowry tape as conversation is aired on national TV

More: Taoiseach ‘has no intention’ of re-opening Moriarty Tribunal

Lowry: Payment in taped conversation was tax compliant

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Hugh O'Connell

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